I took a direct route to Border Field this early August Friday morning. I passed the Bird and Butterfly Gardens on my way. I ignored the Dairy Mart Ponds as I exited. The only thing that interested me this day was a ride to the solitude that this isolated stretch of beach at the southernmost stretch of California’s Pacific coastline could provide.
I’ve made several journeys down to these beaches to accompany the research biologists as they monitored the endangered and threatened species nesting species in the low dunes just above the high tide line. While the Snowy Plovers and Least Terns are very small, their parents keep them off the beaches where they are vulnerable to predation from many larger birds who would make a snack of their small fuzzy frames. Least Tern hatchlings of this year’s broods had by now grown to into juveniles; able to fly, but not feed themselves. These young birds rested and wandered the beach while their parents were out shopping for groceries. By sitting quietly on the sandy beach, I was able to capture these birds and the other shorebirds as they went about their daily routines.
Reddish Egrets are the most lively of any heron-like bird I’ve ever observed. While other ‘active’ foragers like the Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons stir the muddy bottom with their feet to disturb the small prey into open water where they can be consumed, the Reddish Egret jumps and flashes its wings over shallow water until their prey reveals their presence with movements. Then the bird will drop quickly and snatch their meal. It’s quite the dance.
Birds met on this expedition were Least Tern, Whimbrel, Reddish Egret, Elegant Tern.